Police announce fines up to 50,000 riels for overcrowding, while van operators voice scepticism and dismay
Photo by: Heng Chivoan
A mini bus carries a few extra passangers back to Phnom Penh from Svay Rieng province after P’Chum Ben this year.
PHNOM Penh Municipal Police will begin to enforce restrictions on passenger limits, targeting trucks, taxis and vans, officials told the Post Monday.
"From today, we will fine overloaded trucks and vans from the provinces that allow passengers to ride on the roof into the city because it is dangerous," said Tin Prasoeur, chief of the Phnom Penh traffic police.
Municipal police have previously imposed fines on overloaded vehicles, but they have not been strictly enforced in recent years, he said, adding that it will take time to make sure all vehicles abide by the new rules.
"We will use the ban to force people to change their ways. We want people to respect the road laws. When they do, the number of traffic accidents will decrease," he said.
Tin Prasoeur said fines for violating the ban were not meant to threaten drivers, but were meant to instill a greater respect for the law.
He said police will educate drivers and explain the penalties for violating the ban. Fines for infractions will range from 7,000 riels (US$1.75) to 10,000 riels. Repeat offenders could be fined as much as 50,000 riels, he said.
"At the moment, Phnom Penh has many traffic jams because drivers do not follow traffic laws," he said.
Sok Khar, a passenger van operator who makes runs between Phnom Penh and Prey Veng, said the ban would eat into his profits.
"We don't want to put passengers on top of the vans, but if we don't then I can't earn enough profit because of the high price of petrol," he said.
"When the police used to enforce the ban we would tell passengers to get off the top when we were passing the police and then we would allow them to get back on," he said.
Kong Bona, another passenger van operator, said he expects the new ban will go the way of older ones. "In the beginning, the police are strict. But a few months, everything will be the same," he said.
"Police tell me that when they get money, they will turn the other way. I know their minds clearly, as I've been in this business for seven years," he added.